Huge field for Pudding Run

Hannah Viner, winner of the Christmas Pudding Run 2016
Hannah Viner, winner of the Christmas Pudding Run 2016

Matthew Bickerstaff and Hannah Viner led home a huge field of 862 runners at the Matthew Walker Christmas Pudding Run last Sunday.

In wet and windy, runners from across the country turned out undeterred and were rewarded with a hefty Christmas pudding and limited edition t-shirt for their efforts.

The Heanor Running Club-hosted race saw personal bests, Christmas pudding hats aplenty and fantastic camaraderie among the club runners and first-timers tackling the undulating 10k route around Shipley Country Park.

Thirty-two runners also took part in the second running of 1.5-mile fun run prior to the main event, a race that saw Billy Wallbank of the host club come out on top.

The 10k event saw Heanor Running Club’s Bickerstaff streak away to victory and have the race sewn up by halfway.

The 23-year-old faced early competition from eventual runner-up Chris Millett, a Team Derby runner, but used his strength on the hills and knowledge of the course to enjoy a 91-second victory.

Bickerstaff crossed the line in a time of 33.44.

Runners were treated to the sounds of the Heanor Gate Science College steel band upon arrival at the finish.

Highgate Harrier Hannah Viner enjoyed an even clearer margin of victory in the women’s race.

Viner, who competed in the London Cross Country Championships just 24 hours before, took the race by the scruff of the neck in the first 5k.

Despite slowing in the second half, the 20-year-old finished almost three minutes ahead of second-placed Lily Winfield of Heanor RC to place seventh in 38.07.

Race organiser Rob Rainsford would like to express his thanks to everyone involved in another great day for the sport, including Matthew Walker, to the runners for their continued support and the small army of volunteers that made it happen.